By Andy Weddington
Saturday, 10 November 2018
Since 10 November 1775 ...
Not quite six months ago I wrote commentary about a World War II Marine.
Private First Class Lyle E. Charpilloz, USMC.
He fraudulently enlisted at age 15.
His boot camp photo looked like a scared kid.
He fought on Guadalcanal.
That scared kid survived.
The look didn't - replaced by a confident combat-tested Marine.
The Battle of Tarawa was his last fight.
He was dead at 17 on the first day of battle.
His remains returned home - Spring this year.
Only a surviving younger sister, who had clear memories of her brother, had closure.
A great nephew contacted me and offered more on his great uncle.
Recently he asked if I thought a portrait was possible; despite short on reference material.
I explained the challenges of posthumous portraits - not knowing the person; of not having live sittings; the distortions of photography; limited references; etc. but that I'd think about it.
Yesterday morning it was bitter cold and snowing. Taken by the unusual light I hauled my wagon of gear out anyway and painted a landscape; conditions as difficult as I have ever faced - moments of heavy snow covering paint and blowing onto the canvas. Winter cold weather survival training above the Arctic Circle in Norway 36 years ago this month still comes in handy.
Perseverance returned a nice painting ... and more importantly an idea for the portrait.
So starting late yesterday and finishing this morning a life-size portrait - with just a stick of twig charcoal.
24 x 18 in.
charcoal on paper
I stopped when feeling likeness close and expression reflected a confident Marine (The primary photo for reference taken just after Guadalcanal.).
I'm still thinking about it, Mr. Collins.
PFC Charpilloz lived to celebrate but a couple of Marine Corps Birthdays.
But this Birthday he's remembered - in spirit, in charcoal - by a brother Marine; who still finds what those World War II Marines did incomprehensible.
Happy Birthday, Marine!
Happy Birthday, Marines - a raised glass in salute, to each and all!
The landscape ...
The Row - In the Falling Snow
30 x 30 in.
oil on canvas